M. M. (Morrison Meade) Davis.

How to be saved : a study of first principles online

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the drunkard to heaven without repentance, heaven
would be hell to them, and they would struggle
to escape from its pure atmosphere. As the dis-
eased eye is pained by the light, so the impure in
heart would flee from God. Heaven is a prepared
place for a prepared people.

John, evidently with doubt in
3. rui s o j^jg mind as to the purity of pur-

Repentance , 1

pose of some who came to be

baptized, called upon them to "bring forth fruits
meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:8). This was right;
for genuine repentance, like a good tree, will always
bear good fruit. What are some of these fruits?

a. Confessing Sin. "Wash me thoroughly from
mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin; for
I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is
ever before me" (Ps. 51:3, 4). "If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our


sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9). "Father, I have sinned against
heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy
to be called thy son" (Luke 15:21). Every one
v^ho truly repents is anxious to imitate the penitent
prodigal and seek forgiveness in humble confession
of sin. Until we are willing to do this, it is clear
that we do not appreciate the heinous character of

b. Prayer for Forgiveness. "And the publican,
standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his
eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying,
God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18: 13).
The sight of sin always brings the soul to its knees.
When a child which loves its mother discovers that
it has broken her commandments and grieved her
heart, it instinctively seeks her presence and prays
her forgiveness. And how can the mother heart
refuse? It is said of the big-hearted Lincoln that
he issued standing orders for the admission of
every messenger who sought his aid in saving a
life. However great the throng who waited on
him, such a messenger was admitted first. And
regardless of the standing of those who sought an
audience — though they were Senators, Congressmen,
Cabinet officers, foreign representatives, and mil-
lionaires — all had to wait on him who sought the
life of some condemned man. "If ye then, being
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your chil-
dren, how much more shall your Father which is
in heaven give good gifts to them that ask him?'*
(Matt. 7:11).


c. Restitution. No amount of profession and
emotion and agony will avail without restitution,
provided restitution be within our power. In Matt.
5 : 23, 24 the Saviour teaches that we are to right
our wrongs against man before we offer sacrifice
to God: 'Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the
altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath
aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the
altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy
brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Sin-
offerings without repentance are worthless, but not
more so than repentance without sin-offerings.
When we sin against man we sin against God, and
we must first be reconciled to man before God will
hear us. A man sins against the child of his neigh-
bor. How can the matter be adjusted ? He must first
undo the wrong to the child before he can expect
the forgiveness of the father. And man is God's
child. The liar, therefore, must confess and cor-
rect his falsehood, the thief must restore the stolen
goods, the fraudulent man must disgorge, and the
hypocrite must reform, before we may expect the
forgiveness of the Father. Let Zacchseus be our
example (Luke 19:8).

d. A New Life. "Therefore if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor.
5 : 17). Repentance is often shallow and inadequate.
It is like that of the little girl who was punished
for her naughtiness. At night, before being tucked
away in bed, she prayed to God: "O God, please
make me good, not real good, but just good enough


SO I won't have to be whipped." F. D. Power puts
this point most forcibly : "There must be a godly
walk and conversation. The man who formerly
was a liar will now be known far and wide as a
truthful man. The man given to dishonest prac-
tices will now show himself upright and reliable in
all his transactions. The man who aforetime was
profane, impious, unjust, inhuman, given to ungod-
liness and worldly lust, now lives soberly, right-
eously and godly. The man who once, like the
prodigal, reveled in impurity and drunkenness, is
now proving himself chaste and temperate. The
soul that cared formerly only for the mad whirl of
pleasure and worldliness finds delight now in things
spiritual and divine. The world sees the reforma-
tion is genuine." Thus may we rise on stepping-
stones of our dead selves to higher and holier
things. And in this there is nothing base nor bitter.
It is only good rising out of evil. It is the resurrec-
tion of purity from the grave of lust. It is dark-
ness fleeing before the dawn. It is weakness cloth-
ing itself with the strength of Jehovah. It is the
prisoner, freed from shackles, bolts and bars, step-
ping forth a free man. As the water-lily, white and
pure, and admired by all, rises from the black filth
of the lake or bog, so the sweet flower of repent-
ance springs from the bitter pangs of remembered
wrongs, and "is only the soul blossoming back to
its better nature."

Beecher puts the case forcefully and beautifully:
"Men look upon repentance and humiliation before
God very much as they do upon a voyage to the


North Pole. Every single league, as they advance
toward the Arctic region, they leave more and more
behind them greenness, and fruits and warmth, and
civilization, and find themselves more and more in
the midst of sterility, barrenness, ice and barbarism.
Men think that to go to God is dreary and desolate
in the extreme. It is not! The sinner is the
Esquimaux! He lives in ice and burrows under-
ground, and is but little better than a beast. But
if by any means he becomes fired with a conception
of a better clime, and, leaving his hibernating quar*
ters, he takes the ship of Repentance and sails
toward the Torrid Zone, at every league he is sur-
prised by the new forms of vegetation. He has
seen oak-trees only about as high as his knee. Not
long after he sets out on his voyage, he is aston-
ished to see them as high as his head. As he draws
near the tropics, he is lost in wonder and ecstasy to
see them lifting themselves far above him in the
air. And with what satisfaction does he compare
the delightful home he has found with the miser-
able one he left."


1. Is it difficult to exercise true repentance?

2. Define repentance.

3. Give two Bible examples of repentance.

4. What does Errett say as to the words "re-
pentance" and "faith"?

5. Give four reasons why we should repent.

6. State four fruits of repentance.

7. Quote Power on the subject.

8. Give Beecher's illustration.




1. Clearing the Ground.

a. All Hear, but All Are Not Saved.

b. Men Dead in Sin Can Not Act of


c. A Bible Example.

2. Filing Objections.

a. It Turns Attention from the Gk)S-


b. It Destroys Human Responsibility.

c. It Makes God a Cruel Monster.

d. It Makes Infidels.

3. What Is Conversion?

4. Aim and End of Conversion.




But for the confusion and uncertainty created
by the theologians, the searcher after truth, with
his heart purified by faith and his life purified by
repentance, would at once be baptized and enter
fully into the Christian life. But the air is full
of questions about conversion, change of heart, and
the like, and he is afraid that he is not fit for
baptism; and so postpones it for the present, that
he may look into these questions. He begins with
the study of conversion.

This is a question of the greatest possible impor-
tance to every one, and it should be carefully

But, in order to such study,
earing e gome difficulties must be removed.
Ground -r^ . , . r ,

Durmg the time of the apostles,

and for two hundred years later, these difficulties
did not exist. The gospel, as "the power of God
unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16), was preached and
men were saved. Near the close of the fourth
century Satan sowed the seed of speculative theol-
ogy, and the trouble began. Augustine espoused
it, and it soon became a power for evil. He taught
that, because of the fall of Adam, all, even infants,
were so depraved as to destroy the human will
and leave them the helpless servants of sin. This

9 127


being true, conversion was necessarily miraculous,
God's power in it being irresistible, and this power
was exerted only on the elect. At first thought it
seems incredible that such a theory could be
accepted by any one. But many like the mys-
terious, especially in religion. Enshroud a subject
in fog, and let it stand like a mountain wrapped
in mist, half revealed and half concealed, and
their imaginations are impressed, and the heart is
filled with holy ( ?) awe. Then the priest has his

a. All Men Hear the Gospel, but All Are
Not Saved; Hence This Miraculous Power Is
Exerted in Behalf 7 Some, and Withheld
FROM Others. The Saviour, in the parable of the
sower (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23), fully explains this
matter. Some seed fell on the wayside, some on
stony ground, some among thorns, and some on
good ground. In some cases there was no fruit,
in others it was slight, and in the last an abundant
harvest. This was not because a miraculous power
was sometimes exerted, and sometimes withheld,
but because of variety in soil and circumstances.
The seed, which is the word of God (Luke 8: 11),
was the same in each case, but the soil, which is
the human heart, was not. This explanation, sim-
ple, sound and philosophical, should commend itself
to all.

h. Sinners Are Dead in Sin, and, Being
Dead, It Requires Miraculous Power to Bring
Them Back to Life. "How shall we that are
dead to sin live any longer therein?" (Eph. 2:1).


Here the two words "dead" and *'live" are applied
to the same individual, showing that he was dead
in one sense and alive in another. If, then, when
Christians are dead ''to" sin, they are able still
to do wrong, sinners, when dead ''in" sin, are
able to do right. To interpret these and kindred
passages so as to teach that one is so dead that
he can not hear, understand or obey the gospel is
to treat a figure of rhetoric as if it were a literal
statement of truth. Let us see the absurdity of
this in another Pauline passage: "Awake thou that
sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall
give thee light" (Eph. 5:14). Death here is not
absolute, and does not imply that the dead are
unable to hear the cry, to awake, or to rise from
the dead. The fact is that total depravity, except
in rare cases (Eph. 4:19), is a myth of man's
theology, and not the teaching of the Bible. "Evil
men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,
deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). If
men are totally depraved, it is impossible for them
to wax worse. We all possess both good and evil
(Rom. 7:21-23), and salvation is the development
of the good, and damnation is the development of
the evil. None are so good but that they may be-
come better, and few are so bad that they may not
become worse.

c. A Bible Example. The case of Lydia (Acts
16: 14, 15) is confidently relied on as proof of this
theory. Luke says that Paul preached to her, and
that the Lord "opened" her heart, which is regarded
as proof that it was so bad that miraculous power


was essential to her conversion. But this is a
slander on a good woman, for there is no proof
that her heart was so bad that it could not be opened
by ordinary means. Here is another example of
figurative speech. The word ''heart" is compared
to something narrow or contracted, or ciosed up
entirely, and needed to be expanded or opened.
The trouble with Lydia's heart was not that she
was totally depraved — far from it — but as a
Jewish worshiper she believed that the Messiah
would restore the old Davidic throne, and bring
back the lost glory of the children of Abraham. She
had no conception of the world-wideness of his
mission. Thus was her heart contracted, and it
needed opening. Imagine a close-fisted, stingy man,
able but unwilling to give of his means. But on
a certain occasion a preacher makes an appeal for
a worthy cause, and it reaches his contracted heart
and expands it so that he responds liberally. In
this case it might be said that his heart was opened
by the preacher. But surely it would not be
claimed that a miracle was wrought. None was
needed. The truth only entered, and the heart was
expanded and the purse was opened. Even so
when the gospel — a gospel not for the Jew only,
but for all men — entered Lydia's heart, it was
opened as was the heart of Peter in the house of
Cornelius, and she received it with joy.

Let us note a few of the elements of this
woman's character, and see that it was not bad:
She was, like Cornelius, a worshiper of God, and
his prayers and alms were acceptable to God.


When called away from home she took her religion
with her — a mighty proof of its genuineness. She
closed her store on the Sabbath day, regardless of
the fact that her rivals kept theirs open — another
weighty proof of genuine conviction. Though her
people seemed too poor to have a fashionable place
of worship, she was not ashamed of them, but wor-
shiped God with them in an open-air meeting by
the river-side. And though they seemed not to
have a man among them, she was loyal to her God.
Do these facts indicate a bad woman? If you know
one such to-day, do you not point to her as a
model Christian?

But, being a Jewish worshiper, her heart was
narrow. It was contracted by the prejudices of
that bigoted people. But, being an honest heart, it
received the large, new truth which Paul preached,
and thus it was ''opened," expanded, enlarged, just
as multitudes of similar hearts are being opened
every day. The gospel in such a heart is like the
sun on a rosebud. It opens it, and enlarges and
beautifies it, and causes it to send forth its sweet
incense into the world. No miracle is necessary.
Nature's laws are all that is needed.

Having removed the main
2. 1 mg jec- pi-Qpg under this theory, we next
tions . , . , . .

consider some serious objections

to it.

a. It Turns Attention Away from the Gos-
pel. *T am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,
for it is the power of God unto salvation to every
one that believeth" (Rom. 1: 16). If the gospel is


God's power to save, any theory of conversion
which turns the attention of the unsaved away from
it, is false. This theory does so teach, and hence
it is false. God uses no superfluous means. If one
life-boat will save, why send two? If the gospel
is "the power of God unto salvation," why another
power? Note the fact that it is not a power — one
of two, or many powers — but it is the power :
the one sole and all-sufficient power to save.

b. It Destroys Human Responsibility. If
miracle is essential to conversion, and if God only
can work miracles, then man is not responsible for
his sin. "Trust God and keep your power dry,"
said Cromwell; not, "Trust God to keep your
powder dry."

c. It Makes God a Cruel Monster. The Bible
teaches that he is our Father, and that he loves
us with an infinite love. But this theory makes him
a heartless monster, cruel and arbitrary. He tan-
talizes all with the ofifer of salvation, but refuses
to exert the necessary power in the case of many,
and thus mocks them in their misery, and trifles
with them when the soul's eternal interests are in-
volved. If you, a father, had two boys, weary
and hungry, would you spread a tempting feast
before them, knowing that they could not reach
it without special help from you, and yet extend
the help to one and withhold it from the other? If
so, you are a merciless monster, and deserve, as
you would receive, the execration of all men. Any
theory which so represents God, must be wrong.

d. It Makes Infidels. Thoughtful people, seek-


ing salvation, hear such preaching, turn from it
with instinctive disgust, and say that it can not
be the teaching of a just and loving God, and,
knowing nothing better, they drift out into the cold
sea of infidelity. Thousands of this class, many of
them the brainiest and best, are in our midst to-day.
Many of them do not turn from God at once, but
go to the mourners' bench, and wait and watch
and pray for this special power. It does not come,
and they finally turn back to their former lives with
the deepest conviction that the whole thing is a
farce, or that God is a respecter of persons. I speak
both from wide observation and painful experience.
We are now ready to raise the question:

Conversion is turning. A
3. What Is Con- ^^.^^^1^^. discovers that he is on

the wrong road. He halts, turns

about, and changes his course. So, the sinner, dis-
covering that he is on the road to ruin, pauses, faces
about and begins his march over the narrow road
which leads to life. Moody's definition is good:
"'Halt ! Right about face ! Forward, march !" But
the Saviour's is better: The story of the prodigal
son. He is plunging downv/ard to death. The
heavy hand of affliction is laid upon him. He
pauses, realizes his deep degradation, repents,
resolves to do better, and at once puts his resolu-
tion into efifect, and returns to his father and is

The three thousand Jews at Pentecost, with
hands stained in the blood of the Saviour, are
arrested by Peter's sermon. They see their awful


guilt, and cry out for help. The preacher tells
them what to do. And the same day they change
their course and enter the kingdom of God. Paul,
breathing out threatenings and slaughter against
the disciples of Christ, and having destroyed the
church in Jerusalem, and about to repeat this de-
struction in Damascus, is arrested in his mad career,
and made to see his sin; when suddenly his mighty
life, with its measureless influence, is given to God.
And so of the eunuch, Lydia, the jailer, and mul-
titudes of others in the Book of Acts; they hear,
they halt, they turn about, are converted and saved.
Could anything be simpler? Can not a child
understand it? Why, then, so much confusion about
it? There can be but one answer: it is because of
the mist and fog with which the speculative theo-
logians have surrounded it. Brush this away by
the breath of the pure gospel, and there is not a
responsible mortal beneath the stars who can not
understand it.

In the process of conversion let it never be
forgotten that man, of his own accord, does the
turning. He is not a machine, turned to the right
or left, and driven backward or forward, by some
power other than his own; but he is a man in
the image of God and endowed with the power of
choice, and he turns to the right or left, and moves
forward or backward, according to his own volition.
So fearfully and wonderfully made is he that he
can look up into the face of God and say, *T will"
or "I will not," and Jehovah respects his decision.
His heart is his castle, and no man, and no angel,


and not even his Maker, has the right to enter
without his permission. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them
which are sent unto thee, how often would I have
gathered thy children together, even as a hen gath-
ereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would
not!" (Matt. 23:37). "Behold, I stand at the
door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and
open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). He was
active in his degeneration, and he must be active
in his regeneration. Of his own will he turned
away from God, and of his own will he must come
back to him.

Proof of this proposition is found in the fact
that the original for "conversion" occurs in the
New Testament thirty-nine times, and in every case
except one (the Revised Version) the ripe product
of the scholarship of both the Old and New
Worlds renders it "turn" (active) and not "be
turned" (passive). The same verb, without the
preposition, occurs eighteen times, and in every
case it is active. Is it not time that we drop the
old and false phrase "be converted," and take up
the new and true one, "turn"?

Every Bible conversion has in it three great
changes — a change of heart, a change of life and
a change of state. And God has provided three
agencies to produce these changes. Faith changes
the heart, repentance changes the life, and baptism
changes the state or relationship. This order can
not be reversed.


The state can not be changed first, and then the
life and heart. The heart is the beginning-place.

There can be no repentance, or change in life,
until we beHeve we have done wrong. And when
we do so beHeve, the repentance naturally follows.
And after the change in heart and life, and never
before, are we to be baptized, which changes the
relationship. The marriage ceremony illustrates
this well. In every true marriage these three
distinct steps take place. Faith, ripening into loving
confidence and trust, changes the hearts. Their
lives are changed, not by repentance, it is true, but
they are changed. Their conduct toward each other,
and toward others, is not what it once was; and yet
they are not married. But when the marriage
ceremony is performed, their relationship is changed.
Before the ceremony, despite the changes already
experienced, they were in the single state, and after-
ward they were in the married state. Baptism is
the marriage ceremony by which the penitent soul
is made part of the bride of Christ.

"If any man be in Christ
4. The Aim and Jesus, he is a new creature : old

p . things are passed away; behold,

all things are become new" (2
Cor. 5 : 17). The servant-girl, when asked for proof
of her conversion, gave the true answer : "I now
sweep under the rugs." Before her conversion she
had been an "eye-servant," taking advantage of her
mistress, but now she is honest. Her conversion
did not impart any new faculties to the soul, for
they were not needed; but it revolutionized her life


by turning these faculties into a new channel. She
thought, desired, loved and hated as before, but
the subjects of her thought, desire, love and hatred
are changed. Conversion is like refitting an old
ship and employing it in the service of a new and
better master. Christ takes possession of the ship
and puts on a new pilot and new compass, and
throws overboard everything that is evil, and fills
her with a better cargo, and turns her toward
heaven. It is the same ship, but her course is


1. Was conversion a simple subject in New
Testament times?

2. How was it mystified?

3. How answer the three arguments on de-
pravity ?

4. Name four objections to the theory.

5. Define conversion.

6. Is man active or passive in conversion?

7. What three changes in conversion?

8. What is the great purpose of conversion?




1. What Is the Heart?

a. It Believes.
h. It Loves.

c. It Wills.

d. It Condemns.

2. How Is THE Heart Changed?

a. The Intellect by Testimony,
h. The Af ections by Loveliness.

c. The Will by Motives.

d. The Conscience by Right-doing.

3. An Example.



Change of Heart.

Perhaps there is no question connected with
Christianity around which more mist is found than
the question of '"change of heart" ; and possibly
not one of them so Httle deserves this misty environ-

Before inquiring how the
I. What Is the ^^^^^ .g changed, let us know
Heart? , . . J^ , i

what It IS. It can not be the

fleshly heart located in the left breast, for it is the
same before and after conversion. It is no more
changed than the hand or foot.

Let US ascertain what the heart is, by what it
does. If a man shoes horses, he is a blacksmith;
if he sells goods, he is a merchant; if he practices
law, he is a lawyer. Now, if we can find what
the heart does, we can safely decide what the heart
is. What does it do? The word ''heart" occurs
many times in the Bible, and yet all these passages
are capable of a fourfold classification, showing
that the heart does four things.

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